Stirring the Alphabet Soup of Business and Leisure, Meetings and Incentive Travel

Has anyone been watching “Mad Men” on TV? As mother always said, fashion goes in cycles. From the boardroom to the golf links, there was a mid-20th Century culture of mixing business and pleasure, and it’s really never left us.

Okay, there were hiccups along the way. From the moment the Kennedy administration (funny, that) publicly attacked the ‘three-martini lunch’ to the introduction of frequent flyer miles, the line has been a fuzzy one. Fair enough…but, we venture it’s here to stay.

Bravo, the I-94 form has gone digital, but the question it’s still asking is, “business or pleasure?”

MICE

Brand USA is on the bandwagon. Meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition travel is booming out of Latin America, especially Brazil. There are a host of reasons why long-haul India, the second largest English speaking nation on earth, is poised for growth in MICE travel to U.S. gateway cities. Yes, U.S. convention organizers have noticed; they are building more flexibility into their housing policies, according to ‘The Inbound Report’ by North American Journeys.

While the letter ‘C’ in MICE doesn’t stand for China, it might as well. As destinations put out the welcome mat by dropping visa restrictions like so many dominoes, China’s booming middle class is surging in outbound travel. Even as the percentage of independent Chinese travelers rises, the intersection with MICE travel continues to be a strong attractor.

credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr

credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr

Bleisure

Loyalty programs the world over and hotels with kids’ suites have established that blending business and leisure isn’t new. Airbnb and other shared economy startups have morphed into multi-billion dollar businesses almost overnight. BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, one of the world’s largest providers of serviced apartments, released a study at the recent Serviced Apartments Summit indicating that 83 percent of respondents indicate free time on business trips is used to explore a destination, with more than half of travelers joined by ‘significant others.’ Of course.

So, we’re only here to say, it’s all good.

P.S. Travelers from the U.K. are putting a bug in the ear of the airlines: If long haul carriers could please not double and triple fares over English school holidays,  holidaymakers could enjoy family vacations without encouraging parents to flirt with truancy. How’s that for wishful thinking?

Coyle Hospitality Group advises the hospitality industry in mystery shopping, quality assurance, customer service evaluation and delivery and trendsetting marketing from America to Brazil to China.

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